♪ a renewed commitment to the asia-pacific region. u.s. president barack obama outlines his new strategy. welcome to "newsline." i'm catherine kobayashi in tokyo. u.s. president barack obama said the u.s. is turning its attention to the vast potential of the asia-pacific region during a landmark speech to australia's parliament. he stressed the importance of the asia-pacific region as a major part of u.s. foreign policy. obama told his audience --
>> after a decade in which we fought two wars that cost us dearly in blood and treasure, the united states is turning our attention to the vast potential of the asia-pacific region. in just a few weeks, after nearly nine years, the last american troops will leave iraq. and our war there will be over. in afghanistan we've begun a transition, a responsible transition. so afghans can take responsibility for their future and so coalition forces can begin to draw down. >> obama told his audience that his administration plans to refocus on the region now that it's ending its military campaigns in iraq and afghanistan. obama is seeking stronger cooperation with u.s. allies in the region, including australia and japan, amid china's military build-up. his remarks suggest that the u.s. is seeking to involve china in asia's multinational
framework rather than trying to contain it as a strategy for achieving stability and prosperity in the region. obama met australian prime minister julia gillard on wednesday and they agreed to expand the u.s. air force presence in australia by stationing 2,500 u.s. marine troops there. obama says the deployment is important for maintaining security in the pacific and the south china sea. observers believe the move is part of the u.s. military re-alignment to counter china's growing military power in the region. italy is in desperate need of being pulled back from the brink of an economic disaster. the country now has a new government. to find out more about that and how it's affecting the markets we go to ai uchida from our business desk. >> thanks a lot, catherine. that's right. out with the old and in with the new. former european commission member mario monti has been officially sworn in as italy's new prime minister. he now faces the urgent task of reforming the debt-ridden
country. the inauguration ceremony took place in rome on wednesday. monti is a well-known economist. he was appointed to succeed former prime minister silvio berlusconi, who resigned on saturday after failing to address the country's budget situation. the new prime minister will also serve as the finance and economy minister. monti's cabinet is made up of only technocrats, meaning there are no politicians. despite the inauguration of the new cabinet, italian government bonds continued to be sold in the european markets on wednesday. no prospects are in sight to prevent further bond price declines. italian ten-year government bond yields remain over 7%. that's a level that will make it difficult for the country to carry out fiscal reconstruction on its own. the yield on the spanish ten-year government bond, meanwhile, topped 6.4%. that's the highest level since the country joined the euro. government bonds of france and
other countries that are supporting debt-ridden euro zone members were also sold. market sources say europe's credit crunch is getting worse as sell orders are gaining pace among major holders of euro zone government bonds. these include commercial banks and other institutional investors. meanwhile, in greece the coalition government under the new prime minister lucas papademos has won a vote of confidence in parliament by a wide margin. the move paves the way for greece to obtain bailout funds. parliament endorsed the national unity government on wednesday by a clear majority. before the vote papademos told parliament that he vows to abide by the eu's comprehensive package to overcome the debt crisis. he said dealing with the nation's problems will be more difficult if greece is not a member of the eurozone. papademos is poised to promote talks with the eu and the international monetary fund to get money for greece by next month, and that's to ensure
payments on its debt obligations. let's get a check on the markets now. market players were pessimistic overnight with continued uncertainty over euro zone sovereign debt. actually, the dow jones fell almost 200 points on wednesday. let's see how things are kicking off here in japan this thursday morning. we go to ramin mellegard at the tokyo stock exchange for that. so ramin, good morning. negative factors playing into markets again following the drop in u.s. stocks. but how are stocks here reacting? >> very good morning to you, ai. yes indeed. we had fitch rating agency coming out and using the word "contagion" in relation to u.s. banks' exposure to eurozone debt issues and saying that the situation might get worse unless a solution is found quickly. now, let's have a reaction here for the nikkei and the topix for the opening levels here. you can see a negative access there. down 29 points for the nikkei and down three points for the topix. let's not forget nikkei closed yet at its lowest level since
october 5th on the back of the stubbornly stronger yen, which has pushed exporters lower. we'll keep track of that sector again today. and that's really been a persistent theme so far this year, which has seen the yen, as you can see there, gaining substantially against the euro. now 103.61-67. and keeping pretty steady against the dollar there. 77.05-09. also, the bank of japan governor shirakawa said yesterday the european crisis is affecting japan's economy by boosting the yen. and he also came out and said that the eurozone crisis is the biggest risk to the global economy right now. and quite frankly, we have seen that overriding even fundamental issues here such as earnings reports and economic data way lot of companies, japanese companies coming out and forecasting better -- actually some of their earnings for the rest of the fiscal year ending march 2012. however, on a bright note we did have the three major financial
groups in japan on monday coming out and giving their earnings. and actually one or two of them upping their forecasts for the year as well. so we're going to keep track of all the exporters relating to the stronger yen and also financials and banks as well as olympus shares. let's not forget it gained almost 15% yesterday and it's been up around 60% since last friday. also on another note, ai, today sees the release of the beaujolais nouveaux wines here in japan. so it could be a good idea to stock up before the weekend. thank you. >> thanks a lot, ramin. ramin mellegard from the tokyo stock exchange. let's also take a look at some other market figures now. ♪
and that's the latest from business. now it's back to catherine. >> thanks very much, ai. the harvest season is usually a happy time for farmers in japan. not this year. they've been dealing with the fallout from the fukushima daiichi accident. consumers are worried about radiation in their food. farmers who grow fruit and vegetables outside the 20-kilometer exclusion zone around the nuclear plant are having a tough time selling their products. so they're trying to fight fear with facts. nhk world's susumu kojima has the story. >> translator: farmers from fukushima are promoting their fruit and vegetables in tokyo. they've come to the city hundreds of times since japan's nuclear accident. >> translator: people can eat food from fukushima without worrying.
>> reporter: still, consumers are divided on the safety of fukushima's food. >> translator: people in fukushima are really trying hard. i will continue to eat vegetables and fruits from fukushima. >> translator: if there is a product from southern japan, i will choose that rather than than one from fukushima. >> reporter: fukushima officials bought more radiation detectors in september and now have ten devices. inspectors can check nearly 200 samples per day. authorities say they want all products to be sold unless they confirm the radiation level is below the safety limit. kinju watanabe has been farming in fukushima for more than 30 years. he says it's his policy to produce safe fruit for his customers. he uses pesticides, but half the
average used by other farmers. the fukushima daiichi accident has hurt watanabe's bottom line. the price of his peaches dropped 90% this summer compared to last year. he's never experienced such a loss. >> translator: when i received it, i thought there should be another zero. >> reporter: watanabe is now concerned about upcoming sales of his fuji apple. the fruit is famous for its sweetness. many customers order fuji every year as gifts for friends and family. fukushima inspectors have already tested samples of apples from his region and approved their sale. but he wanted to be 100% sure. so before the fuji harvest he sent apples from his field to the laboratory.
>> translator: i ordered a test for my apples, because when people question their safety, i would like to say, from the bottom of my heart, that they are okay to eat. >> reporter: watanabe was relieved when he found out the results. his apples are radiation-free. he sent letters to his customers to let them know, but some people were still concerned. >> translator: as a farmer my income is decreasing. i'm not sure whether i can live like this, and i don't know if the problem will end this year or whether it will continue for three or five more years. i can't predict the future, but i'm forced to think about what could happen.
>> we asked our reporter susumu kojima to find out more about what's ahead for kinju watanabe and other farmers in fukushima. >> reporter: i'm standing at an apple garden in fukushima city. this is the peak of the harvest season. fukushima is one of the biggest production regions for fruit such as apples and peaches. a local agricultural cooperative says the nuclear accident cost farmers about $400 million as of the end of the september. the operator of the damaged plant, tokyo electric power company, has paid only 30% of that amount in compensation. farmers still don't know how much more money they will get or when they will even get it. decontamination fields is another big issue. experts say most of the radioactive fallout settled on topsoil. the problem is, even if you remove the topsoil, there's no place to store it for the
moment. farmers are considering another option. >> translator: because our soil is rich in clay, it keeps radioactive substances intact. they're not transferring from soil to vegetables. so we are thinking of locking them in rather than removing topsoil. >> reporter: researchers in fukushima are testing a mineral which absorbs radiation. the idea is to contain the radiation in the soil. farmers in fukushima are still looking for the best way to decontaminate their fields. in the meantime, they will continue working to reassure people about the safety of the food they grow. susumu kojima, nhk world, fukushima, japan. in other news the king and queen of the himalayan nation of bhutan attended a state banquet at the imperial palace in tokyo
on wednesday. the king and queen are on a six-day state visit to japan. at the banquet the crown prince welcomed the guests on behalf of emperor akihito, who is now in the hospital. about 150 people, including prime minister yoshihiko noda attended the banquet. in a message read by the crown prince the emperor said it's a pleasure to welcome bhutan's king and queen so soon after their marriage. the emperor also expressed gratitude to the himalayan country for the aid extended to victims of the march 11th earthquake and tsunami in northeastern japan. >> i saw it in the outpouring of support for japan in march. with people from all over bhutan visiting temples and monasteries to pray for those affected by the earthquake and tsunami.
>> bhutan's royal couple will visit disaster-hit soma city, fukushima prefecture, on friday to encourage children there. wine enthusiasts around the world have something to toast about this thursday. it's the official debut of this season's beaujolais nouveaux. the wine may be from france, but japan is its second home. people here are some of the first to uncork it every year. nhk world's rina nakano takes us to the overnight celebrations. >> reporter: serious wine lovers in tokyo won't be getting much sleep tonight. they're anxious to get a glass or two of the 2011 beaujolais nouveaux. [ cheers ] ♪
>> translator: november is finally time for beaujolais nouveaux. >> translator: i drink it every year. >> translator: last year's wine was good, too, but this year it's so different. it's really smooth. >> reporter: beaujolais nouve nouveauis a french wine. it's bottled only six to eight weeks after the grapes are harvested. people around the world enjoy its youthful taste and fruity flavor, especially in flavor. >> translator: japan imports about half of all of the beaujolais nouveau exported from france. i believe that's about 8,200,000 bottles. >> reporter: so why is beaujolais nouveau so popular here? in some way it has to do with the japanese obsession to be the first to celebrate and enjoy new things such as the season's
first rice crops and fish harvests. wine has become a seasonal favorite. many beaujolais fans hope the strong yen and weak euro would bring prices down this year. but the high cost of fuel for transport ended up keeping the price at about $30 a bottle. some retailers have found creative ways to make the wine more affordable. aside from the traditional glass bottles, this store offers cheaper boxed wine. they also have beaujolais in plastic bottles, some costing as little as only 500 yen. that's around $6.50. >> translator: plastics are much lighter than glass battles so we can save on shipping costs.
that's how we're able to offer the wine at a friendly price to our customers. >> reporter: experts say this year's grape harvest is one of the best. they expect sales of the beaujolais nouveau to reach an all-time high. rina nakano, nhk world, tokyo. >> i'll be saying cheers with a glass of beaujolais nouveau sometime very soon, i'm sure. necks we go to patchari raksawong in bangkok to find out what's making headlines in the region. the south china sea issue is back on the regional agenda this week as a series of important meetings take place on the indonesian island of bali. in remarks apparently directed at china the united states has called for restraint over the territorial dispute. u.s. secretary of state hillary clinton on wednesday urged countries that lay claim to disputed islands not to resort to intimidation. clinton made the remark during a
visit to manila, where she met with philippine president benigno aquino. >> the united states does not take a position on any territorial claim because any nation with a claim has a right to assert it, but they do not have a right to pursue it through intimidation or coercion. >> clinton expressed the u.s. intention to further strengthen its alliance with the philippines and support its maritime defense. the south china sea issue will be high up on the agenda at the east asia summit on saturday. chinese premier wen jiabao will attend that meeting as well as u.s. president barack obama. the u.s. is participating for the first time. another important meeting kicked off in afghanistan on wednesday, where a traditional
loya jirga of community leaders gathered to discuss pressing issues facing the war-torn country. at the top of the agenda was the planned withdrawal of international troops by 2014. afghan president hamid karzai indicated that american forces would only be permitted to stay longer under certain conditions. the united states and afghanistan have been negotiating the continued presence of american forces to counter militant groups, but the two sides have reached an impasse about nighttime operations by the u.s. military, which the afghan side opposes.
karzai is apparently hoping to get the support of the loya jirga to put pressure on the united states. and here in thailand the u.n. secretary-general has seen firsthand the devastation caused by the nation's worst floods in decades. ban ki-moon sat down with thai prime minister yingluck shinawatra in bangkok on wednesday to discuss the crisis. he pledged all necessary assistance to help thailand recover. >> this crisis will be overcome soon. as i said and i repeated, the united nations stands ready to work with the thai government. >> meanwhile, in some parts of bangkok nhk observed floodwaters have receded. officials say their efforts to drain the water are working. >> the level of the flood in
bangkok should not be higher than this time, and the area should not be spread out. we may say that this is under control right now. >> floodwaters from the north are being diverted to the east and west of bangkok. even though the center of the capital now appears safe, the situation in those areas remains severe. and that will wrap up our bulletin. i'm patchari raksawong in bangkok. time now to take a look at the global weather forecast with sayaka mori. hello. welcome to your weather update. starting off with east asia, cool air is blanketing the northern half of japan, bringing sea-effect snow for hokkaido and the tohoku region. hokkaido has had over 50 centimeters of snow in the past 24 hours.
strong winds are also a concern, but those conditions will gradually ease as we head into this afternoon. so after that the whole of japan is looking at dry conditions. down towards the south, a tropical low is bringing ample moisture to the southeast coast of china, hainan, the northern half of the philippines, as well as taiwan, and this area has been contending with ongoing heavy rain. the ground is already very well saturated, so additional rain could trigger landslides as well as flooding. now the moisture is meeting with cooler air from the north over the central and northern portions of china, creating light to moderate precipitation. tokyo will be seeing a seasonal 17 degrees and 17 degrees in seoul, and dropping down to minus 7 in ulan bator with some snow. heading over to the americas then, across the deep south, this is where we are seeing lots of active weather. we are talking about severe thunderstorms, large hail, damaging winds, as well as tornadoes in alabama and georgia.
the threats will likely continue into tonight. now, the mid-atlantic region and the northeastern states are also looking at locally heavy rain, but over the next 24 hours things will be gradually clearing up. so that's good news. up towards the north, a separate system is bringing in snow over the upper great lakes. ontario could see up to ten centimeters of snow. meanwhile, a strong pacific storm is approaching onshore of british columbia and the pacific northwest, bringing heavy rain, heavy precipitation as well as strong winds, gusts of up to 130 kilometers per hour were reported along the coast. the system is moving further inland and will create blustery snow over the northern rockies in the next 24 hours. as for thursday's highs, we're expecting only minus 8 degrees in winnipeg with some snow expected and 4 degrees in chicago, and 6 in toronto, but
still in the upper teens in houston with 19 degrees. finally, let's go over to europe then. a cold front is bringing in rain across the western british isles, and unstable conditions will likely continue into saturday, but the london area will escape rain. severe thunderstorms are still continuing across southern italy, and out towards the east, a system is moving through western russia, bringing snow and windy conditions. and for turkey, remaining wet and cold due to a stationary low pressure system. lots of single digits in the east, 1 for stockholm, 3 for moscow, and staying in the teens in madrid and lisbon, and we're looking at the seasonal 11 degrees in paris, with some drizzle expected. that's it from me now and here is your extended forecast. ♪
our lead story this hour, u.s. president barack obama said the u.s. is turning its attention to the vast potential of the asia-pacific region. during a landmark speech to australia's parliament. he stressed the importance of the asia-pacific region as a major part of u.s. foreign policy. >> for the united states this reflects a broader shift. after a decade in which we fought two wars that cost us dearly in blood and treasure, the united states is turning our attention to the vast potential of the asia-pacific region. in just a few weeks, after nearly nine years, the last american troops will leave iraq. and our war there will be over.
in afghanistan we've begun a transition, a responsible transition so afghans can take responsibility for their future and so coalition forces can begin to draw down. >> obama told his audience that his administration plans to refocus on the region now that it's ending its military campaigns in iraq and afghanistan. obama is seeking stronger cooperation with u.s. allies in the region, including australia and japan, amid china's military build-up. his remarks suggest that the u.s. is seeking to involve china in asia's multinational framework rather than trying to contain it as a strategy for achieving stability and prosperity in the region. obama met australian prime minister julia gillard on wednesday, and they agreed to expand the u.s. air force presence in australia, by stationing 2,500 u.s. marine troops there. obama says the deployment is important for maintaining security in the pacific and the south china sea.